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Quadriplegic urges vehicle back-up cameras to save lives

April 12, 2013|By Richard Simon

WASHINGTON -- Sometimes, in the hubbub of Washington, it takes a personal story to grab government officials’ attention.

Enter Patrick Ivison, an 18-year-old USC freshman who was left a quadriplegic as a toddler when a neighbor accidentally backed a car over him.

He was at the U.S. Capitol on Thursday, telling his story in an effort to persuade federal regulators to complete work on a requirement for back-up cameras in new cars. He was joined at a news conference by parents who held up pictures of their children killed in back-over accidents.

"I feel so lucky to be alive," said Ivison, who was 14 months old when he suffered a spinal cord injury outside his San Diego home. "This accident is one that can be completely prevented."

President George W. Bush in 2008 signed the Gulbransen Kids Transportation Safety Act, named after a 2-year-old Long Island boy killed when his father accidentally backed over him in the family driveway.   The measure led the U.S. Department of Transportation in 2010 to propose requiring back-up cameras in new vehicles to help eliminate blind zones that cause nearly 228 deaths and 17,000 injuries a year.

But safety advocates complained that the proposal has been languishing at the White House Office of Management and Budget, which reviews proposed regulations.

"What is the Obama administration waiting for?" Jackie Gillan, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, said at a news conference outside the Capitol, noting that the legislation was co-sponsored by then-Sen. Barack Obama.

There was no immediate response from the administration.

"I know it’s too little, too late for us," said Meredyth Bryant of Virginia, whose 2-year-old daughter was killed in a back-up accident. "But if we can help prevent it from happening to other children in the future, that’s why we’re all here, reliving our nightmares over and over again."

The safety groups noted that back-up cameras already are standard or an option on a number of cars.

"This is happening all the time," Ivison said, "and it shouldn’t." 

Ivison says he drives with hand controls. The first thing he got for his car: a $69 back-up camera, he said.

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